Nate Marshall - Stowaways, Throwaways & Drifters
201, Nate Marshall
Nate Marshall may be familiar to readers of Wildy's World as one half of Upstate New York duo Nate & Kate. A lot has gone on in the world of Nate Marshall since we reviewed Now & Then; but the essential character of his songwriting hasn't changed even as continued touring and the cascade of life events have deepened his perspective on the world around him. Marshall recently returned with Stowaways, Throwaways & Drifters, a collection of eleven tracks that documents Marshall's continued development as a songwriter and storyteller.
Marshall opens with "Smile That Smile For Me", a folky love song with something of a mid-1970's Paul Simon flair to it. You'll find yourself hitting repeat on this track, which combines great songwriting with vibrant energy and a subtle sense of musical timing. "River Of Liquor" is a bit muddled and messy; reflecting an attempt at recovery from alcoholism and the restoration of a relationship. "Anything, Anytime, Anywhere: Free" is a sociological take on how the prevalence of technology has blurred the line between "needs" and "wants". It's an apt observation planted in a blues/folk/American arrangement you can't shake. "Here To The Midnight Shore" changes pace a bit; a love song embossed with Beach Boys-style harmonies. It's a sweet number that's pretty and airy but manages substance in spite of it all.
"Architects Of Destiny" is like a messy Blood Sweat & Tears jam. The horns are jarring and the arrangement has an uncomfortable feel; which may be by accident but more likely seems an instrumental allegory for deep discomfort with the direction of the world. "Turn The Key" opens with an instrumental take on "Oh Susanna" that grows through variation and embellishment into a tune about the imperturbable draw of home, even from within the unrelenting walls of prison. Marshall descends into inspired silliness for "I Love U More", a love song that includes references to George Bush, Saddam Hussein, Jesus, Burger King, McDonalds and nudism. It's hokey and fun and may even evoke a chuckle or two.
Marshall displays depth with "Piano Overture", a bluesy pop piano piece that sounds like it was recorded in a restaurant at dinner time. Marshall impressive with a lyrical style, a sense of dynamics and vibrant personality that plays out through the keys. Horizons continue to broaden on "Fiery, Desolate Day", which dawns stylistic guitar work that feeds into a high octane acoustic blues tune you won't soon forget. "That Ain't Us, Ain't That Us" is a story song about the things we all say we don't do in relationships even as we do them. It's an indictment of human behavior and sincerity that relies on human tendency as the primary indictment. It's a smooth bit of songwriting that is likely to stick around Marshall's live sets for years. "Not In My Name" is a political protest song, calling out the U.S. government for waging wars her people don't support.
Nate Marshall doesn't have a perfect voice, but he has the perfect voice for the songs he write and the style he purveys. There's something gritty and knowing about the man as a songwriter that puts listeners at ease right away. Stowaways, Throwaways & Drifters is a varied collection that shows off some of Marshall's strengths as a writer and performer, but also manages to unearth some sides to the artist you might not have expected. In a crowded Indie singer/songwriter marketplace, Nate Marshall stands out.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)